Literary Terms Lesson Plan: Teaching Common Devices

By , Staff Writer
literary devices people reading books
    literary devices people reading books
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Are you're looking for a literary devices lesson plan? This literary terms lesson covers seven literary terms related to poetry and other literature. This lesson plan on literary terms is appropriate for students in the upper elementary or middle school grades.

Learn Common Literary Terms Lesson Plan

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to list, describe and recognize seven literary devices commonly used in poetry, literature and other works of writing.


Explain that poets use figurative language to make their writing show the reader things in a different or interesting way. It heightens the senses and helps to get the poet's thoughts across.

List and Explain Common Literary Devices

Write this list of seven literary devices on the board. Tell students that each device is commonly used in poetry. Explain each one, encouraging students to take notes so they'll be able to study the different types later.

  • simile: In a simile, the words "as" or "like" are used to compare two things.
  • metaphor: Upon first hearing a metaphor, it sounds false or ridiculous. When you think about it, it makes sense because the two things being compared have a trait or two in common. It is used to make a point or give an opinion. There are several types of metaphor.
  • alliteration: Alliteration is a technique that repeats the first sound in several words. The words may be separated by a word or several words. Tongue twisters use this technique.
  • personification: With personification, you give human characteristics to animals, ideas or objects. This can add pleasure to the reading of a poem and make the reader take a different perspective on things. This literary device is used a lot in poetry.
  • onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia consists of using words that mimic sounds. The words can also sound like their meaning. This can add a fun element to poetry and can really help the reader experience what the poet experienced.
  • hyperbole: Hyperbole is basically an extreme exaggeration. Hyperbole examples make a point and can sometimes be very funny.
  • imagery: Imagery appeals to the reader's senses. There are several types of imagery. It can describe objects, desires or thoughts.

Literary Terms: Examples in the Lesson Plan

Once you have explained each literary device, lead students in a discussion focused on examples of each type. Go through each literary device, asking students to share examples for works they have read. Provide feedback on their contributions, then add to their ideas using the examples below.

  • simile: as blind as a bat, as nutty as a fruitcake, as dry as a bone, they fought like cats and dogs, as easy as shooting fish in a barrel; additional examples of simile poems
  • metaphor: you are my sunshine, she has a heart of stone, he kicked the bucket, time is money, life is a roller coaster; additional metaphor examples for kids
  • alliteration: "That's what made these three free fleas sneeze" (Dr. Seuss), show Shawn Sharon's shabby shoes, boil the butter and bring it by the bank, Kim comes to cut colorful kites; more examples of alliteration poems
  • personification: the flowers begged for water, the sun played hide and seek with the clouds, lightning danced across the sky, the rain kissed my cheeks as it fell; more examples of personification
  • onomatopoeia: bong, crunch, gobble, hum, meow, oink, ping, quack, smash, slurp, tick, tock, whoosh, zap; sound word examples of onomatopoeia
  • hyperbole: he is older than the hills, my backpack weighs a ton, it is raining cats and dogs, I have a million things to do today, her smile was a mile wide; examples of hyperbole in poems
  • imagery: the eerie silence was shattered by her scream, the word spread like leaves in a storm, the ants began their daily marching drill; examples of imagery in poetry

If you need more ways to illustrate these concepts, use these examples of figurative language.

Literary Terms Worksheet Exercises

Verify how well students have mastered the literary terms covered in this lesson plan by assigning the practice questions below. Add these practice questions to a blank document to create a worksheet. You can use this as homework or an in-class activity. Check student work using the answer key below.

Identify the Literary Device Exercise

For each item below, identify which type of literary device is illustrated by the example. For your convenience, each literary device is included in the list of terms.

List of terms: simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, imagery

  1. My food loves to prance, to jump, to dance.
  2. With the smell of steaks in passageways.
  3. It is raining cats and dogs.
  4. She sells seashells by the seashore.
  5. You are as pretty as a June bug.
  6. You are a pain in the neck.
  7. The bacon sizzled and the timer dinged.

Use the Literary Device Exercise

Write a sentence using each of these literary devices.

  1. Alliteration
  2. Personification
  3. Your choice: simile, metaphor, hyperbole, imagery, or onomatopoeia.

Literary Terms Exercise Answers

Use the answers below to check the answers provided by students.

Identify the Literary Device Answers

  1. Personification
  2. Imagery
  3. Hyperbole
  4. Alliteration
  5. Simile
  6. Metaphor
  7. Onomatopoeia

Expand Into Other Literary Devices

The literary devices discussed in this lesson provide students with a great introduction to literary devices, though there are many more types of literary devices. Once students have mastered these, consider exploring examples of foreshadowing. From there, move into examples of analogy.